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Christ. Since he for our trans-
WHEN my last was broken off, I was going to add a hint of preferring those writers who do the best justice to the Scripture doctrine of the fall of man, and the great revolution it has produced, with reference to our moral state; the ground of our hopes toward God; the redemption and recovery we want, and I might have said, in the whole of our religion. For "as one kind of regimen (says bishop Sherlock) "is adapted to preserve a good constitution, and another to restore a broken one," so it is here. A great part of the mis. takes, which learned men have committed in theology, may be traced to their not keeping this distinction sufficiently in their view. And, as when we read Pope's Essay on Man (so strik, ing and beautiful in many respects) we are surprised to find not a single hint of a defection from primitive rectitude which has degraded our species; so we are more or less disappointed in many theological writers; and
consequently in their systems at large.
Sometimes, indeed, we meet with an extreme in the other way; and man's depraved condition set out with a kind of romantic extravagance. But this does not promote conviction. It diminishes the credit of the preacher, and raises a prejudice against the truth. Happy the student by whom the straight line marked by the simple doctrine of Revela tion, is well distinguished, and well kept.I am, &c,
My dear Sir,
WHEN I think of you, an idea occurs afresh, which, though very simple, I have often thought might be of great use for every student in theology, yiz. that of applying chiefly to the very heart of it. I mean to include all which relates to that conviction of sin, which is preparatory to real religion; the mistakes and the dangers, to which the awak ened are exposed; the directions suitable for them; the source from which their encouragements should be derived; the views and the submissions, they must be brought to after these the nature of true conversion; the difference between common and effectual operations of the Divine Spirit on the minds of men; the specific nature of saving faith, repentance unto life, true love to God, and love to man in its distinct branches; the distinguishing nature of Christian hope, joy, humility, self-denial, every grace; and evangelical obedience at large.
siderable talents appear not to have bestowed a due proportion of their time upon them :-The outlines perhaps have had somę justice done to them, but the interior has been too much postponed.
In these the life and substance of theology seem emphatically to consist. And yet it often happens, that preachers of con
Upon this last branch of in, quiry, I think you will find as much in President Edwards, on Religious Affections, as in any author I have seen; and as able and thorough an examination of the Scriptures. I am, &c. (To be continued.)
THE DECALOGUE. No. 10.
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-seryant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."
No nation can produce a system of moral and religious precepts so perfect as that which was given to Israel from Mount Sinai. It will bear the strictest examination, and when reduced to practice it preserves us in the way of holiness. The apostate Emperor knew this, but anxious to find defects, where none exist, he could only say, that the law contains things too simple and too trite for so high an origin. What he says in detraction, is a high eulogium. It admits, without designing it, that the law is accommodated to the meanest understanding, and thus answers the great purpose of instructing and reforming mankind. Our duty to God and to man is here brought into one point of view. The system is pure and complete. Formed on this model a religious and useful race would
arise venerating Jehovah's name, and seeking the welfare of fel low creatures.
The tenth commandment " is placed as the fence of all the rest. The apostle's reference to it, (Rom. vii. 7, 8.) shows that it comprises the utmost spirituality of the law; and it is a perpet ual confutation of all those systems, by which the outward, gross crime is considered as the only violation of each command. We are here expressly, and in the most forcible language, prohibited so much as to desire what is withheld from us by the command or providence of God; and so far from levelling property, or seizing violently on our neighbour's possessions, we may not so much as at all hanker af ter them. The most secret wish for another man's wife violates this precept: but to desire an union with an unmarried wo man, only becomes sinful when it is excessive, and when it is not submitted to the will of God, if he render it impracticable, We may desire that part of a man's property, which he is inclined to dispose of, if we mean to obtain it only on equitable terms: but what he chooses to keep, we may not covet. The poor man may desire moderate relief from the rich: but he must not coyet his affluence, nor repine even if he do not relieve him. Men, exposed to equal hazards, may agree to a proportionable contribution to him who suffers loss; for it accords with the law of love to help the distressed. This exculpates insurance, when fair ly conducted. But every species of gaming originates from an undue desire and hope of increasing our property, by proportion
ably impoverishing other men ; and is therefore a direct viola tion of this law. Public gaming, by lotteries, so far from being less criminal than other species of that vice, is the worst of them all: for it abets and sanctions, as far as example and concurrence can do it, a practice which opens the door to every species of fraud and villany; which is pregnant with the most extensive evils to the community and to individuals; which sel dom fails annually to bring sev eral to an untimely end by suicide or the sentence of the law; which unsettles an immense multitude from the honest em ployments of their station, to run in quest of imaginary wealth; and which exposes them to man ifold temptations, unfits them for returning to their usual mode of life, and often materially in jures their circumstances, breaks their spirits, sours their tempers, and excites the worst passions of which they are susceptible. Indeed, the evils, political, moral, and religious, of lotteries are too glaring to be denied even by those who plead necessity for continuing them; and too numerous to be recapitulated in this place. Can it therefore consist with the law of God, "Thou shalt not covet," or with the character of a Christian, to con cur in such an iniquitous and injurious system, from a vain desire of irregular gain? Whatever argument proves it unlawful for two or three men to cast lot for a sum of money, or to game in any other way, much more strongly concludes against a million of persons gaming publicly by a lottery for a month or six weeks together, to the stagna
affection, are the evils here prohibited; and we know them to be the sources of all other crimes, and of man's misery. the command requires moderation in respect of all worldly things, submission to God, acquiescence in his will, love to his commands, and a reliance on him for the daily supply of all our wants, as he sees good. This is right and reasonable, fit for God to command, and profitable for man to obey, the very temper and felicity of heaven itself: but it is so contrary to the disposition of our heart by nature, and so superior to the actual attainment of the best Christians on earth, that it is very difficult to persuade men in general, that God requires such perfection; still more difficult to satisfy them, that it is indispensable to the happiness of rational creatures; and most difficult of all to convince them that every thing inconsist→ ent with, or short of, this is sin; that it deserves the wrath of God, and cannot be taken away, except by the mercy of God, thro' the atonement of Christ." PHILOLOGOS.
tion in great measure of every
THE EFFECTS OF TEMPORIZING
swered, that they who imagined
IN MATTERS OF RELIGION, themselves to have as great abil
EXEMPLIFIED IN THE CON-
ities for settling those Christian
(Continued from page 424.) "THERE was at this time a certain preacher at Constance, who consulted Erasmus by Botzem, how the reformation might best be advanced. Erasmus an
* Scott's Commentaries,
self, I so abhor divisions, and so love concord, that I fear, if an occasion presented itself I should sooner give up a part of truth, than disturb the public peace.
"But the mischief is, that a man.cannot thus give up truth, without running into falsehood, and assenting to things, which he doth not believe. For a man cannot judge that to be right, which his own reason pronounces to be false, only because overbearing persons attack the truth with more vehemence, than he chooseth to employ in defence of it, and are the majority and the stronger party. Besides, when such enemies, to reason and to religion perceive that a man will not have the courage to defend his opinions at all extremities, which Erasmus confessed to be his own disposition, they never fail to take advantage of him, to oppress him, and to tun him down, well knowing that nothing is necessary to accomplish their purposes besides stubbornness, clamour, impudence, and violence. And so spiritual tyranny, being once erected, would endure forever, and gain strength and stability. Concord and peace are unquestionably valuable blessings; but yet not to be purchased at the expense of truth and liberty, which are infinitely more estimable than a sordid tranquillity beneath the yoke of falsehood and arbitrary dominion. Beneath this yoke the Christian republic becomes a mere faction of poltroons, solicitous about enjoying the present, and neglecting every thing that is laudable under the pretext of preserving the peace. Such would have been the present state of Chris
tianity, if the pacific scheme of Erasmus had been received and pursued. Divisions, it must be owned, do much harm; yet they have at least produced this good, that the truth of the gospel, and a Christian liberty, which acquiesceth only in the decisions of Jesus Christ, are not entirely banished from the face of the earth, as they would have been without those struggles of our ancestors. They have produced no small service to the memory of Erasmus himself, who, having his works condemned by theological cabals, and mangled by inquisitions, which struck out the most valuable part of his writings, would have been stigmatized and proscribed through all ages, if a party had not risen up in Europe and also amongst his own countrymen, which willingly forgives him his weaknesses and irresolution, for the sake of his useful labours, philological and theological; and hath restored to him a second life and recommended him to the Christian world, by an elegant and faithful edition of all his works.
"But let us hear some more of his advice. This preacher, says he, who certainly is a worthy man, will do more service to the gospel, the honour of which we all have at heart, if he takes care to join the prudence of the evangelical serpent to the simplicity of the evangelical dove. Let him essay it; and then let him condemn my counsel, if he finds it not to be salutary.'
"Alas! experience hath taught the Christian world, that this same serpentine prudence served to make falsehood triumphant. It was even easy to fore